As a piece of the interns’ workplace training and academic experience, a number of classes, seminars, workshops, and tours are presented throughout session. Some of these are mandatory and others are elective. Some activities apply only to policy internships.
Interns begin the internship with three days of orientation. The agenda covers legislative process, ethics, respectful workplace, hot issues for the session, legislative computer programs, plus classes to help the interns get off to a good start in their offices.
We provide classes to help prepare interns for the work with their offices. These include: Washington Legislative Information System On-Line Reports, WSL Search (bill and statute search program), WordPerfect, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
Budget Classes and Workshop
The interns meet for a presentation by fiscal committee staff on how the state budget works. In addition, they participate in a hands-on Budget Exercise. This is an interactive opportunity for interns to try their hand at balancing the state budget.
Mock Hearings and Floor Debate
The "mock" is often a highlight for the interns. They are assigned roles as members, constituents, lobbyists, or staff. They take real bills and work them through a mock House or Senate Hearing. Interns then become Senators or Representatives and work the bills on the Floor. This is as close to the real thing as you can get without being elected to office.
Interns take a series of writing classes to help them prepare for the various types of writing assignments they may have during the internship. These include constituent correspondence, memos, research, press releases, speeches, and bill drafting.
Some interns work with constituents on cases with state agencies such as the Department of Social and Health Services and Employment Security. Because this kind of work is very specialized, interns are provided with a class on how to do it effectively while following specific guidelines.
Meeting with the Governor and a Supreme Court Justice
The interns meet with each once during the session. The meeting with the Supreme Court Justice usually includes a tour of the Supreme Court. Typically, the interns have a group picture taken with the Governor.
Classes on Process
To understand the legislative process more completely, the interns attend a series of classes on specific areas including: Parliamentary Procedure, Rules Committee, and Representative Democracy.
Press and Lobbyist
Each year the interns organize panel discussions with press who cover Olympia and a variety of lobbyists representing many issue areas.
Each intern gets an opportunity to shadow a high level state agency administrator or elected official for a half day or a full day. These have included: Assistant Attorney Generals, Supreme Court Justices, agency directors, Secretary of the Senate, Chief Clerk of the House, and many more. Some interns elect to go on a tour as their shadowing experience.
Many interns chose to go on a tour of either a men's or women's prison as a shadowing experience. Additional tour opportunities have included: Governor's mansion, TVW, and State Archives.
British Columbia Intern Exchange
Interns from British Columbia's Legislative Assembly visit Olympia and Washington interns have an opportunity to visit Victoria. It's a great way to compare systems.